Early Season Environmental Indicators of Wheat Stripe Rust Epidemics in Kansas and the Central Great Plains Region of the United States

Plant Dis. 2023 Jul;107(7):2119-2125. doi: 10.1094/PDIS-08-22-1873-RE. Epub 2023 Jul 13.


During the past two decades, the wheat-producing areas of the Great Plains region in North America experienced frequent, severe yield losses to stripe rust (Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici). In general, outbreaks of rust diseases in the Southern Great Plains region often precede disease problems in the Central and Northern Great Plains. However, these generalizations provide little information, and our objective for this study was to identify weather variables, geographical areas, and time periods that influence the early stages of stripe rust epidemics in the Great Plains. Data used in this analysis consisted of monthly summaries of temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture from 10 climate districts in Texas of the United States. These environmental variables were paired with estimates of wheat yield losses to stripe rust in Kansas from 2000 to 2019, with yield loss coded as a binary variable (1 = >4% statewide yield loss). An ensemble of simple models representing weather variables, time periods, and geographical locations were hypothesized to be influential in the development of stripe rust epidemics. Model performance was verified with observations not used in model development. Results of this study indicated that soil moisture within two to three climate districts in Texas were particularly influential in regional disease development. These areas of Texas were 700 to 1,000 km away from locations in Kansas where the disease-related yield losses were observed, and they often preceded disease losses by 3 to 6 months. In the future, these models could help establish priority locations and time periods for disease scouting and inform regional estimates of disease risk.

Keywords: climate/weather effects; disease forecasting; disease warning systems; epidemiology; pathogen risk assessment; subject areas; yellow rust.

MeSH terms

  • Basidiomycota*
  • Environmental Indicators
  • Epidemics*
  • Kansas
  • Plant Diseases
  • Seasons
  • Texas
  • Triticum
  • United States